Judge rules hotel that allowed swinger parties can stay open; calls for a trial

The Knights Inn in Vandalia

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge ruled that a Vandalia hotel that allowed swingers groups to gather there can stay open for now but a trial will be scheduled on the city’s request to close the business.

On Aug. 4, the city of Vandalia filed a motion to close the Knights Inn, saying it was a public nuisance and asking that it be shutdown. Judge Gregory Singer ruled in favor of the city, granting a temporary injunction, but not shutting the business down.

In his ruling, Singer asked that a trial on a permanent closure of the hotel be scheduled.

ExploreHotel manager: Knights Inn used by swingers group; it’s not illegal

In a written statement, attorneys for the Knights Inn, David Pierce and Chris Conard, said: “We are pleased with the court’s decision. The Judge properly concluded the city’s attempt to close the business was overreaching and not proper. The court’s order memorializes many of the actions the business had already implemented before the city filed the lawsuit. Our client has always been committed to operating its business in compliance with all local and state laws. We look forward to working with the City to address the reality of the challenges for all of those who operate in the Miller Lane Business District.”

Vandalia Interim City Manager and Police Chief Kurt Althouse said the city was also pleased with the judge’s ruling.

“We hope (this ruling) will communicate to the ownership at the Knights Inn that a lot of their earlier business practices will need to change,” Althouse said. “Our goal is for the businesses in that area to conduct business in a safe manner. We’re going to continue to work with the Knights Inn and hopefully make some recommendations.”

Althouse said the city wants to make the Knights Inn and other hotels in the Miller-Lane business district safer for guests. Althouse also said the city has noticed a considerable decrease of calls for service to the hotel in last several weeks, including fewer drug overdoses. Officers have also reported that the businesses is being more cognizant of who they are renting a room to, Althouse said.

There was a preliminary hearing on Aug. 17, during which Althouse testified that the hotel is a drain on police resources. There are a lot of drug overdose calls to the hotel, the city said.

Althouse testified his officers are responding to the Knights Inn more than once a day some days. A Vandalia police officer also testified that he personally responded to someone who had overdosed on a couch in the lobby of the Knights Inn.

Hery Patel manages the Knights Inn and the hotel is a family-run business. Patel testified he raised rates after the city filed the complaint in an effort to change the clientele. He raised the rates from $45 to $50 a night to $55 to $60 a night. Patel also testified since his family bought the hotel in 2017, they have put about $200,000 into remodeling or improving the rooms.

Patel also testified that he instituted a “do not rent” list for unruly guests after hearing about the city’s complaint.

The court has also ordered the hotel not let any person on the premises who has been arrested on the property, trespassed from the property or has been put on the “do not rent list” while under the Patel family’s ownership.

To enforce those orders, the hotel can’t rent a room to anyone who doesn’t provide some form of identification. The Knights Inn was also ordered not to permit any “swinger parties” or “other lewd conduct” from taking place in or expanding to the common areas of the hotel.

A trial date has not yet been set.

In Other News